How to Clean Vomit From Wood Floors

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Yecch...vomit! Whether it's from your dog, cat or a human member of the family, its worst characteristic -- as far as your floors are concerned -- is its acidity. The sooner you get it off your hardwood, the better the chances avoiding finish dulling or worse. The best cleaner for neutralizing vomit odors is another acid -- albeit a more benign one ... vinegar.


Don't Wipe That Stuff -- Soak It Up

Wiping the biohazard with a rag or sponge may force some through the joints between flooring boards and create a whole other set of problems. Use one of these techniques instead:

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  • Dab it with a sponge or absorbent rag.
  • Let it soak into a handful of paper towels.
  • Cover it with cat litter then immediately pick up the litter with a dustpan.

Wash Residue With Vinegar

Vinegar is a mild acid -- which is why it tastes sour -- and it can also have a dulling effect on a hardwood floor finish. Its abilities to clean and disinfect trump that minor peril when vomit is involved, but to be on the safe side, avoid using it full-strength:


Step 1

Mix 1/2 or 1 cup of vinegar with a quart of warm water. Soak a rag in the solution, then wring it out thoroughly. It's never safe to wash a hardwood floor with a wet rag.

Step 2

Wipe the residue from the floor, dipping and wringing the rag as many times as necessary.

Step 3

Rinse the floor with a rag dampened with clear water.

Step 4

Dry the area with a clean, dry rag.


If you're worried about odors, dust baking soda over the affected area, leave it there overnight and vacuum it in the morning.


Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.